Posts Tagged ‘american point guard renaissance’

NBA Playoff Preview: Lakers v. Jazz



WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM GAME 1? Absolutely nothing. I didn’t see a minute of it. Although I suppose I “learned” that Deron Williams had no injury issues from the Denver series. So there’s that.

WE’VE SEEN THIS MATCHUP BEFORE: Yep. Third year in a row between the Lakers and Jazz, with LA winning in six in the second round in ’08 and in five in the first round in ’09.

SO LAKERS IN FOUR IN ’10? Not quite. I expect this to be every bit as close a series as the other Western Conference Semi and every bit as intense as LA’s first-rounder with Oklahoma City (which I nailed, by the way). This was probably as good a Jazz team as we’ve seen over the last four playoff seasons—before the injuries to Andrei Kirilenko and Mehmet Okur. If Kirilenko comes back during this series—as he hopes to do for Game 3—I can definitely see the Jazz making life difficult on the Lakers.

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NBA Playoff Preview: Suns v. Spurs

HOW HIGH ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS FOR THIS SERIES? THROUGH THE ROOF? I don’t think my expectations for any NBA playoff series in the last 12 years has been “through the roof,” unless you count the Nets and Lakers Finals, when I was pretty sure New Jersey was going to stun the world in seven.

BUT IS THIS AS EXCITED AS YOU’VE BEEN FOR A SERIES SINCE JORDAN’S RETIREMENT? As long as you except series involving the Knicks and Nets, I suppose. Although I was pretty excited for Suns-Spurs in the first round two years ago.

THAT WAS A GREAT SERIES! False. It was a great Game 1. The series was over after that.

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The American Point Guard Renaissance

For me, the American Point Guard Renaissance started on an otherwise uneventful night in Winston-Salem, N.C. in February 2004. In Wake Forest’s upset of Duke that night at Lawrence Joel Coliseum, highly touted freshman guard Chris Paul showed that he may not have been touted highly enough. Paul scored 19 second-half points and absolutely dissected the Blue Devils’ defense in as sterling a performance as a college point had displayed in years. I remember thinking that night how good it was to watch a real point guard—one who could dominate a game without dominating the ball—on the college stage.

The American Point Guard Renaissance is loosely defined as the return to form of, I think, the most important position in the game of basketball. Spearheaded by the continued brilliance of Jason Kidd and Steve Nash, some favorable rules changes on the perimeter, and a spate of young points like Paul, Deron Williams, Rajon Rondo, Derrick Rose, Brandon Jennings, and John Wall, the American Point Guard Renaissance is our best hope today to revive the quality of play in the NBA, which has been lagging for more than a decade.

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NBA Playoff Preview: Western Conference First Round

For over a decade, the Western Conference has been home to almost all of the NBA’s classic playoff series and rivalries. Outside of last season’s first-round series between Boston and Chicago, it’s hard to think of a really memorable Eastern Conference playoff series on par with the showdowns between the Kings and Lakers, the Lakers and Spurs, the Spurs and Suns, the Spurs and Mavericks, and the Mavericks and Warriors. The West has been the province of exciting and meaningful playoff basketball, where first-round series have more than once included teams with legitimate chances to win it all.

This year is no different. All eight teams in the West won between 50 and 60 games, meaning the conference’s playoffs are deep and wide-open. The two-time defending conference champs in LA have skidded to the finish. The old guards in San Antonio, Dallas, and Phoenix have shown they still have something left. The Northwest duo of Denver and Utah have been alternately fantastic and woeful at points this season. And There’s fresh blood in Portland and fresher blood in Oklahoma City. The West may not have the favorite to win it all, but it’s certainly the conference worth watching at this point in the playoffs.

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NBA Playoff Preview: Eastern Conference First Round

Yeah, I know the NBA Playoffs already started over the weekend. Big deal. Did anything that happened really change our perception going in? Especially in the East? Thought so.

Pretty much ever since Michael Jordan retired, the East has been significantly worse than the West. The East has only won three championships since 1998–two of them came in upsets of the Lakers, and the third came in one of the worst Finals of all time. This year, however, might be the first time since Jordan beat Russell that the postseason favorite resides in the East. LeBron James and the Cavaliers had the best record in basketball by a wide margin and will finally get to team James with Antawn Jamison and Shaquille O’Neal. And although the East lacks the same depth as the West, it is deeper than it has been in some years, with four 50-win teams and all eight playoff teams at .500 or better. Does that make the first-round any better? Well…

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